The finding of a complete, previously unreleased album by saxophone great John Coltrane is a cause for huge celebration – and that’s exactly what we have with the forthcoming Both Directions At Once: The Lost Album, due for release on 29 June. Whetting the appetite for what’s in store, The New York Times is premiering a previously unheard John Coltrane recording, ‘Untitled Original 11383’, taken from the newly discovered work.
The previously unheard John Coltrane recording comes from a session held on Wednesday, 6 March 1963, with Coltrane’s long-time producer, Bob Thiele, at the helm. Accompanied by his classic quartet – the groundbreaking group consisting of pianist McCoy Tyner, bassist Jimmy Garrison and drummer Elvin Jones – the recordings that make up Both Directions At Once were captured in a single five-hour stint for Impulse! Records.
Inexplicably, the session got shelved, then overlooked, and eventually, as the years passed, completely lost. Its recent discovery has been compared to unearthing the Holy Grail, and Coltrane’s contemporary, fellow saxophonist and jazz giant Sonny Rollins, now 88, has described it as “like finding a new room in the Great Pyramid”.
Three of the tracks on Both Directions At Once are new, previously unheard John Coltrane compositions, and ‘Untitled Original 11383’ opens the collection. Though Coltrane never got around to giving this particular piece a title, it’s now known by name it was given when it was logged at the original session and captures Coltrane blowing Eastern-flavoured melodic lines on his soprano saxophone over a bubbling, finger-clicking groove. The piece is also notable for Jimmy Garrison’s bowed bass solo.
The other two new Coltrane originals on the lost album are ‘Untitled Original 11386’ and ‘Slow Blues’. Two other songs – a cover of the Nat “King” Cole-associated ballad ‘Nature Boy’ and an unheard version of the classic Coltrane composition ‘Impressions’ – are trio recordings notable for the absence of pianist McCoy Tyner. Both Directions At Once is rounded out by ‘Vilia’, a piece based on Franz Lehár’s 19th-century operetta The Merry Widow, and another Coltrane composition, ‘One Up, One Down’.
Both Directions At Once: The Lost Album, is out on 29 June.
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